This Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of one of Malcolm X’s most famous speeches, “Message to the Grass Roots.”Delivered on November 10, 1963, it captures the uncompromising, radical tone of activism at the time—which critiqued the March on Washington that had taken place just three months previously. It was also Malcolm’s last speech before leaving the Nation of Islam.
But how well do you know this speech? Did you know, for example, that Malcolm explained that James Baldwin was barred from speaking at the March on Washington, and Burt Lancaster took his place? As illustrated in this quote, did you know that the speech was also a scathing indictment of the Vietnam War?
If violence is wrong in America, violence is wrong abroad. If it’s wrong to be violent defending black women and black children and black babies and black men, then it’s wrong for America to draft us and make us violent abroad in defense of her. And if it is right for America to draft us, and teach us how to be violent in defense of her, then it is right for you and me to do whatever is necessary to defend our own people right here in this country.
Check out audio from the speech in the video above or read the text itself.